My trip to Royal Tunbridge Wells reminded me of my years in college. I would often meet up with my friends and (just like young women do now) we'd shop, have coffee and chat. This often included a stroll along the colonnade in The Pantiles.
The modern shopping area is at the top of the hill, updated and still as busy as it was thirty years ago. While the older part of town is at the bottom, almost in a valley.
To reach The Pantiles you walk along a road of old shops, old but not tatty. They have fresh paintwork and clean windows. On one side, the pavement is stepped up and there are black benches to rest on- and my legs did need a rest for a few minutes...or more!
When you walk into the Pantiles the outside intrusions of the everyday world- and the traffic running alongside the area- is dampened and for the time you are there you are cocooned from the hustle and bustle of the modern high street.
The Pantiles are a good example of the modern world meeting the past harmoniously and each benefiting.
The surrounding Georgian buildings house businesses of all sizes, and one in the centre of the square, houses the tourist information centre.
Tourist Information-not established in the 18th Century...
Tunbridge Wells was a watering place of the aristocracy, even rivalling Brighton and Bath. The Chalybeate Spring (discovered in c1606) is still there and working.
This facade was restored in 1987 and the water is still served by 'Dippers' between Easter and the end of September.
You can post your letters or postcards into an elegant Victorian post box with a decorative top-much nicer than the standard round boxes.